I've noticed a lot of platforms (blogs and such) list how long they estimate for a specific essay/post/article to take for the average reader. How is this calculated?

I always read fast, so I can't just time myself -- plus, if adding a time-estimate to my own works, I'm going to know what I mean to say, and my reading-speed will be pretty fast. (But if I'm actually confusing and making a lot of assumptions, no matter how short it is, a not-me reader will take much longer.)

Is there a standard bot everyone submits to, or some other resource/calculation?


2 Answers 2


Medium divides the wordcount of a post by 275 words per minute. For images they count 12 seconds for the first image, 11 seconds for the second image, and minus an additional second for each subsequent image. Any images after the tenth image are counted at three seconds per image.

They emphasize that this is an estimation and that in the future, "we’d like to tailor it to your reading speed, account for the complexity of an article, and add support for other languages."

Google has registered a patent to calculate reading time for different sections of ebooks by measuring actual reading times of a sample of readers.

Psycholinguistics predicts reading time using complex grammatical models, data from eye tracking corpuses, and advanced statistical calculations.

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    Welcome to Writing.SE! This is a good answer. You might want to reconsider your username though. While you are free to choose your username however you want as long as it's not against the code of conduct I just want to mention that I saw your username on the frontpage and was ready to flag your post as spam or offensive. We get a whole lot of very weird spam and weird... commentary... on the network from accounts with similar names. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun!
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 21:38
  • Nice answer and welcome to Writing. But I agree with @Secespitus about your username. Even if both things are true, it's creating a perception of your values. And if one or both things aren't true, then why? (I don't actually want to know! This is just for you to think about)
    – Cyn
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 22:31

180 is the average number of words per minute a human reads.

Take the number of words and divide it by 180.

Here you go.

The average human should take 1 minute to read 180 words.

Some platforms may use different numbers, and platforms that track your actual reading pace (e.g. a Kindle device or app) might adjust themselves to your own average speed -- but this is the base; it really is that straightforward.

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    Is it straight wordcount, or do they account for graphs, tables, formulas, etc when present? Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:25
  • It is straight wordcount, the reason is that automatic system cannot evaluate how many time you should spend looking at an image. Every image is different. For tables, if they are made of text it adds to the word count
    – Donny
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:31
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    There could be heuristics, like (just making this up) text formatted in a table takes twice as long to ingest, a formula (if the formatting reveals what it is, like LaTeX) counts as two normal paragraphs, an image link counts for X words, etc. Do any of the common platforms try to account for mixed content? Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:40

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